It's not too hard to imagine a scenario where Kirk Cousins plays for Kyle Shanahan. It's a reach, sure, but not impossible. Currently the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Shanahan is a candidate for a number of head coaching jobs, and Cousins could become a free agent in March.
If Shanahan lands a head coaching gig, his team could work to trade for Cousins if Washington again deploys the franchise tag. And should Cousins hit free agency, however unlikely, Shanahan's team could make a run at signing him. Before we get any further, this hypothetical situation requires a lot of moving parts, and it seems likely the Redskins at least franchise Cousins.
The pairing of Cousins and Shanahan in 2017 is a long shot, certainly. But on Wednesday, ESPN980's Chris Cooley talked about how the Redskins quarterback might perform in Shanahan's offensive system.
"Not any quarterback could be put into Kyle’s system, but I'll tell you this right this second because I know you’re going to ask this before this ends, how would Kirk do in this system?" Cooley said. "Exactly the same as Matt Ryan. He would do exactly the same as Matt Ryan."
This season, Ryan threw for 4,944 yards, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes to go with 38 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Cousins' stats are somewhat similar, he completed 67 percent of his passes and threw for 4,917 yards, but he lagged well behind in touchdowns with 25 and tossed five more INTs.
Looking at the numbers, it's not hard to think Cousins could replicate Ryan's production. Cousins nearly mirrored those stats this year in the Redskins system designed by Jay Gruden and Sean McVay.
The former 'Skins tight end spoke glowingly of Shanahan's offensive system, particularly of the Falcons commitment a balanced run and pass attack. A well established run game opens up the pass, especially in play action, and Atlanta does a great job on screen passes as well.
The connections between Kyle Shanahan and Kirk Cousins are fairly obvious to 'Skins fan. Kyle's dad Mike drafted Cousins in Washington in 2012, and the senior Shanahan speaks highly of Cousins almost every chance he gets. And in a way, Cousins already played in Shanahan's system. He started one game in 2012 when Robert Griffin III was injured, and had more chances in 2013, though that offense the Redskins ran under Shanahan is not the same as the system being used in Atlanta now.
Also worth pointing out that a number of teams would pursue Cousins should he hit the free agent market, regardless what happens with Kyle Shanahan. Many of the most QB needy teams, like the Jets and Bears as examples, aren't looking for new coaches.
Should Shanahan land a new job, it's no lock that team would be in the market for a QB. It's even less of a possibility that Cousins will hit free agency. What is clear though, between the numbers and Cooley's comments, is that Cousins playing in a Shanahan offense could move the ball at an elite rate.
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